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Louisiana fruit, vegetable growers get updates

Fruit and vegetable growers from across Louisiana attended a fall field day at Burden on Dec. 10 to learn about the latest research being conducted by the LSU AgCenter. 

Fruit and vegetable growers from across Louisiana attended a fall field day at Burden on Dec. 10 to learn about the latest research being conducted by the LSU AgCenter.

The event was designed to provide seasonal information to the commercial fruit and vegetable growers, said LSU AgCenter vegetable specialist Kiki Fontenot. “We normally have a field day each spring, but we wanted to show growers the fall crops that we grow here at Burden.”

The field tour was delayed due to bad weather, but once it cleared participants boarded trailers to take a look at the fall crops first hand. Viewed crops included strawberries, broccoli, lettuce and citrus.

The growers saw research with cover crops that will be helpful in building up their soils, said LSU AgCenter program assistant Bobby Williams. “This research is looking at different cover crops that can be used to control weeds and provide organic matter in the fields.”

Fontenot said the research allows the AgCenter to assume the risk and helps growers choose varieties that are appropriate for their particular location. “The organization and the field days provide networking opportunities for the growers as well as provide useful information.”

Growers interested in joining Louisiana Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association may do it in January, Fontenot said. “Members will receive two newsletters per year, invitations to two field days and a copy of the Southeastern Growers Handbook for Vegetables, which is an insect, fungicide spray schedule guide that lists all of the varieties they need. It talks about fertilizer rates and all the regulations.”

Eddie Romero, the current association president from New Iberia, said the organization is a way for buyers and sellers to get together. Romero has been successful in bringing in new customers through the Louisiana MarketMaker website operated through the LSU AgCenter.

The program is a place for producers to create a website to let the public know the items they have for sale. Its goal is to let consumers know what’s available in their area.

“We are trying to provide knowledge to our growers to help them sell more,” Romero said. “I’ve picked up customers from Baton Rouge, Lafayette and Lake Charles with the MarketMaker program.”

Brenda Miller, of Evangeline Parish, along with her husband, Lionel, has been growing a variety of vegetables on two acres and has been successful the past two years.

“We started after retirement, and we come to these meeting to learn all we can about the produce business. We encourage everybody to come and learn more,” Miller said.

Weather kept some of the strawberry growers from attending the field day because they were covering their plants in advance of the predicted cold snap.

For further information about the Louisiana Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, contact Fontenot at (225) 578-2417.  

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